SAN LUIS, Ariz. (Border Report) — Volunteers from the Arizona-California Humanitarian Coalition spent part of their morning passing out freshly-cut cantaloupe to migrants who had just crossed the border near San Luis, Arizona.
Since Title 42 expired, volunteers and migrant advocates have noticed a significant drop in migration and a change in demographics.
“We are seeing the last couple of weeks is a big increase in individuals from African countries,” said Fernando Quiroz, one of the volunteers. “They are from places such as Senegal, Ghana, Congo and most of them have flown from their home countries to Turkey then Spain, Nicaragua, Mexico City and then to the border.”
One of the migrants who made that long journey is a man named Baraba, who said he was from Mauritania, a country in Northwest Africa.
“The problem is we don’t have freedom, you can’t live your life as you want, so it’s hard,” said Baraba. “That is why we’re trying to find some peace and America is the place to find peace.”
Baraba said he and his friends and family are constantly harassed by police and government agents who demand bribes and payoffs from all the workers in his hometown.
“It’s impossible to live there,” he said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has not released exact figures of migrant encounters for the month of May in the Yuma Sector, but in April, according to CBP, 13,501 migrants were apprehended in this area.
Since Title 42 went away on May 11, the agency has acknowledged a 70 percent drop in migrant encounters throughout the southern border.
It also says 38,000 asylum-seekers from 80 different countries have been repatriated along with another 40,000 who were deemed ineligible for asylum.
“We are lower than 70 percent,” said Quiroz.
Quiroz attributes the number of fewer crossings to Mexico’s willingness to take in expelled and deported migrants from Haiti, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba.
The U.S. is also disqualifying people from these nations if they didn’t seek asylum in their home countries first.
“Fifty to 70 percent were Cubans and when that equation was removed, we saw a drastic fall in numbers,” Quiroz said.
Since the 2023 CBP fiscal year began in October, the Yuma Sector had seen 124,881 migrant encounters, making it one of the busiest in the country. During the same period last fiscal year, border agents had already encountered 179,180 migrants in the Yuma Sector.